John Pizzarelli – Midnight McCartney (2015)

FrontCover1Paul McCartney had a great idea for an album. He just needed John Pizzarelli to make it. On September 11th, Concord Records will release Midnight McCartney. I got an idea in my head, McCartney wrote to Pizzarelli in late May 2014. “It might be interesting for you and Bucky to do a few of my songs that are lesser known than some of the others. I realize this may be a little immodest, if not pushy. I imagine the songs would include post-Beatles melodies of mine like ‘Love in the Open Air’ (from the soundtrack to 1967 film The Family Way), ‘Junk,’ ‘Warm and Beautiful’ and, possibly, ‘My Valentine.'”

“My Valentine” was the one McCartney composition on his album of songs from the ’30s and ’40s, Kisses on the Bottom (MPL/Hear Music/Concord). Pizzarelli played guitar on the album and backed Sir Paul on a handful of prestigious live performances, including the GRAMMY Awards, MusiCares Person of the Year gala and the initial iTunes/Apple TV live broadcast. McCartney concluded in his letter, “The attraction for me is lesser-known tunes done in a mellow jazz style and, if it gets some traction, maybe the album could be titled Midnight McCartney. As I said, this may tickle your fancy or you may decide these are the ramblings of a deranged composer with too much time on his hands.”

To say John Pizzarelli was tickled is putting it mildly. Pizzarelli, his wife Jessica Molaskey co-producer of Midnight McCartney – and pianist Larry Goldings immediately went into research mode, digging through McCartney’s albums of the last 45-plus years to find songs that could be re-harmonized and adapted for Pizzarelli’s trademark style. The beauty of the project was having a lot of time to sit and listen to these things and make sure it was right, Pizzarelli says. “There were a lot of things we had never done before a lot of background vocals, additional horns and handclaps. That really made it into something.”

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And like most Pizzarelli records, it’s a family affair: wife Jessica Molaskey co-produced the album and provides background vocals; John’s father Bucky adds rhythm guitar on several tracks and a stunning solo on “Junk”; brother Martin is on bass throughout; and teenage daughter Madeline got into the act, transcribing “Warm and Beautiful” for her father to sing in a different key. “We’re McCartney fans and this is our way of letting people know these are good songs”, he says. “It’s a take on the songs within a style we’re comfortable with. If one became a hit, we’d be fine with playing it for the next 20 years.”(Editorial Reviews, amazon.com)

John Pizzarelli lays it all out in the title of his 2015 album: this tribute to Paul McCartney is designed for play in the smoky late-night hours, when everything turns sweet and mellow. Furthermore, this is a tribute to McCartney, not the Beatles. There isn’t a Fab song to be found here, as Pizzarelli focuses entirely on Paul’s solo work (for these intents and purposes, this includes Wings records), concentrating on the ’70s but also sliding McCartney’s Great American Songbook wannabe “My Valentine” into the mix.

John Pizzarelli+Paul McCartney

Pizzarelli digs up a few other obscurities — the early Wings song “Some People Never Know,” the Speed of Sound deep cut “Warm and Beautiful” — and he also plays around with expectations, making “Let ‘Em In” swing like mad and relaxing “Hi Hi Hi” so it doesn’t rock, it grooves. He also invites Michael McDonald to sing on “Coming Up,” which swaggers like Sinatra in Vegas, but for as delightful as that is, the key to the record’s success is Pizzarelli himself, who delivers upon the laid-back promise of the title but is savvier than he needed to be, which is why Midnight McCartney satisfies. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

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Personnel:
Harry Allen (saxophone)
Hélio Alves (piano)
Chris Cardona (viola)
Duduka Dafonseca (drums, percussion)
Katherine Fink f(lute)
Andy Fusco (saxophone)
Larry Goldings (keyboards)
Tony Kadleck )trumpet)
Kevin Kanner (drums)
Michael McDonald (vocals on 04.)
John Mosca (trombone)
Mairi Dorman Phaneuf (cello)
Bucky Pizzarelli (guitar)
John Pizzarelli (guitar, vocals)
Martin Pizzarelli (bass)
Pamela Sklar (flute)
Paul Woodiel (violin)
Robin Zeh (violin)
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background vocals:
Jessica Molaskey – Madeleine Pizzarelli
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Don Sebesky: Orchestration

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Tracklist:
01. Silly Love Songs (L.McCartney/P.McCartney) 3.5
02. My Love (L.McCartney/P.McCartney) 4.25
03. Heart Of The Country (L.McCartney/P.McCartney) 3.11
04. Coming Up (P.McCartney) 3.56
05. No More Lonely Nights (P.McCartney) 5.07
06. Warm And Beautiful (L.McCartney/P.McCartney) 3.33
07. Hi, Hi, Hi (L.McCartney/P.McCartney) 3:52
08. Junk Paul (P.McCartney) 3.37
09. My Valentine (P.McCartney) 3.39
10. Let ‘Em In Linda (L.McCartney/P.McCartney) 2:53
11. Some People Never Know (L.McCartney/P.McCartney) 3.23
12. Maybe I’m Amazed (P.McCartney) 4.00
13. Wonderful Christmastime (P.McCartney) 4.17

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Various Artists – The Prince´s Trust 10th Anniversary Birthday Party (1987)

FrontCover1The Prince’s Trust celebrated it’s 10th anniversary in 1986 with a concert at Wembley Arena attended by the then Prince and Princess of Wales. It is a more of a curiosity concert now in light of the fact that most of the stars and groups on show have either split up, moved on, or have shuffled off this planet (Stuart Adamson committed suicide years later) Inevitably, the performances are some of the big names at the time, for example, Suzanne Vega and Level 42 were top ten in England and Mark Knopfler was riding high post-BROTHERS IN ARMS with Dire Straits. Tina Turner and Eric Clapton duetted on “Better Be Good To Me”, Rod Stewart performed his classic “Sailing” …. and the concert culminates in Paul McCartney singing “Long Tall Sally” and “Get Back”with Tina Turner.

Professionally done with some good music to boot, THE PRINCES TRUST BIRTHDAY PARTY is more of interest now to fans of the decade.(by Doom Templer)

Nothing special in term of performances,it’s only a curious relic piece on collector’s shelve like mine to satisfy our addiction of music performed by our darling masterclas. (by Guitar Kiko)

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Personnel:
Bryan Adams, Eric Clapton, Francis Rossi, George Chandler, Jimmy Chambers, Jimmy Helms, John Illsley, Mark King, Paul Young, Ray Cooper, Rick Parfitt, Samantha Brown*, Sting, Trevor Morais, Vicki Brown and much more

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Tracklist:
01. Dire Straits: Money For Nothing (Knopfler) 5.20
02. Midge Ure: Call Of The Wild (King/Mitchell/Ure) 4.21
03. Suzanne Vega: Marlene On The Wall (Vega) 3.16
04. Phil Collins: In The Air Tonight (Collins) 4.58
05. Big Country: Fields Of Fire (Adamson/Brzezicki/Butler/Watson) 4.26
06. Howard Jones: No One Is To Blame (Jones) 4.12
07. Level 42: Something About You (Gould/King/Lindup/Gould/Badarou) 5.07
08. Elton John: I’m Still Standing (John/Taupin) 3.47
09. Joan Armatrading: Reach Out (Armatrading) 4.40
10. Tina Turner: Better Be Good To Me (Chinn/Chapman/Knight) 5.02
11. Rod Stewart: Sailing (Sutherland) 5.25
12. Paul McCartney: Get Back (Lennon/McCartney) 3.33
13. Paul McCartney: Long Tall Sally (Johnson/Penniman/Blackwell) 2.36

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Various Artists – Concerts For The People Of Kampuchea (1981)

FrontCover1 During the four nights after Christmas in 1979, a number of musicians got together at the Hammersmith Odeon in England for a series of benefit concerts to provide famine relief to the victims of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia. The event was organized by Paul McCartney and Kurt Waldheim (who was then Secretary-General of the U.N.), and it involved older artists such as McCartney and the Who as well as younger new wave acts like the Clash and the Pretenders. A 2-LP set titled Concerts for the People of Kampuchea was issued in 1981, containing selected highlights from the four evenings. It’s good to have some historical document of this event. Although the album isn’t the best of its kind, it does capture an interesting moment in rock history.

ConcertProgrameSide One is owned by the Who, who reportedly played a three-hour set on the third night. The four songs contained here are well-played by the post-Keith Moon quartet. It’s not exactly a Live At Leeds-class performance, but it’s respectable enough. A good performance of the then-timely “Sister Disco” makes this set unique.

Side Two contains three songs by the Pretenders (the original lineup, no less) and one from Elvis Costello. It’s good to hear lively performances by these new wave icons in their prime, but the high points of this side are the two rollicking numbers by Rockpile, featuring Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds. Their guest vocalist on “Little Sister” is none other than Robert Plant, doing his best Elvis impersonation.

Side Three demonstrates the difficulty of doing justice to so many artists within the constraints of an LP, as it allows only one song apiece for four of the acts. Queen had the first night of the event to themselves, but they are only represented by one long song. The Clash’s set could probably have been represented by a better song than “Armagideon Time”, though the song is appropriately solemn for the occasion. It’s more fun to hear Ian Dury’s goofy “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” and the Specials’ droll “Monkey Man”. The latter is a reminder of the 1979 ska revival in England.

Side Four showcases McCartney’s exploits during the fourth and final evening, first with three Wings songs, and then with three bombastic numbers by Rockestra, a McCartney-led jam of at least twenty English rockers. (The credited list appears at the bottom of this page). The “Rockestra Theme” won a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. This is definitely a unique moment that is interesting to hear and see. Unfortunately, the documentary Rock For Kampuchea has never been released on DVD. But, thanks to YouTube, the “Rockestra Theme” footage is embedded below:

Booklet1 Whereas George Harrison had his all-star charity concert for the people of Bangladesh, Paul McCartney had this December, 1979 series of concerts in Hammersmith Odeon to raise money for the victims of Pol Pot’s reign of terror in Cambodia. It was a meeting of the old guard (McCartney, the Who) and the new (the Clash, Ian Dury, the Pretenders, Elvis Costello), and those in the middle (Queen) who could sneak in. The audio quality is shabby; nothing leaps out as being more sonically interesting than a live radio broadcast, and the performances are okay but not staggering. the Who — with a full side devoted to them — deliver their usual stadium set (edited from a three-hour performance). Queen, on the other hand, who similarly had a full night to themselves, get one song. Of most interest in terms of rockstar-watching is the “Rockestra,” a supergroup of the musicians from all three nights. Before the infamous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame superstar jams, here’s about 30 rockers plowing away at “Lucille” and “Let It Be” in front of thousands of awestruck fans. Of archival interest mostly: I guess you had to be there. (by Ted Mills)

DVDCoverPersonnel (Rockestra):

Piano: Paul McCartney
Keyboards: Linda McCartney, Tony Ashton, Gary Brooker
Guitars: Denny Laine, Laurence Juber, James Honeyman-Scott, Dave Edmunds, Billy Bremner, Pete Townshend, Robert Plant
Bass: Paul McCartney, Bruce Thomas, Ronnie Lane, John Paul Jones
Drums, Percussion: Steve Holley, Kenney Jones, Tony Carr, Morris Pert, Speedy Acquaye, John Bonham
Horns: Howie Casey, Steve Howard, Thaddeus Richard, Tony Dorsey
Vocals: Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, John Paul Jones, Ronnie Lane, Bruce Thomas, Robert Plant

RockestraA small part of Rockestra

Tracklist:

The Who:
01. Baba O´Riley (Townshend) 5.22
02. Sister Disco (Townshend) 5.22
03. Behind Blue Eyes (Townshend) 3.41
04. See Me, Feel Me (Townshend) 6.02

Pretenders:
05. The Wait (Hynde/Farndon) 3.32
06. Precious (Hynde) 3.27
07. Tattooed Love Boys (Hynde) 3.23

Elvis Costello & The Attractions:
08. The Imposter (Costello) 2.15

Rockpile:
09. Crawling From The Wreckage (Parker) 3.06
10. Littler Sister (with Robert Plant)(Pomus/Shuman) 3.34

Queen:
11. Now I´m Here (May) 7.00

The Clash:
12. Armagideon Time (Bennett)

Ian Dury & The Blockheads:
13, Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick (Dury/Jankel)

The Specials:
14. Monkey Man (Hibbert) 4.17

Paul McCartney & Wings:
15. Got To Get You Into My Life (Lennon/McCartney) 3.06
16. Every Night (MyCartney) 4.23
17. Coming Up (McCartney) 4.15

Rockestra:
18. Lucille (Collins/Penniman) 3.08
19. Let It Be (Lennon/McCartney) 4.14
20. Rockestra Theme (McCartney) 2.37

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